Welcome back to Shack Chat, our Friday feature where the Shack Staff opines on a subject related to video games, then invites our Chatty community to weigh in. This recurring feature offers the staff an opportunity to learn more about our gaming tastes and invite you, our readership, into the discussion.
This week's Shack Chat is inspired by the upcoming Halloween holiday. Spooky times are upon us, so we figured that it would be a great time to reminisce about some of the best Halloween-themed events that we’ve encountered in our video game careers. Trigger warning: pumpkins, candy corn, and Chamber of Horrors cassette tapes
Have fun reading the entries, and be sure to respond to our picks and share your own in the Chatty comments below.
Question: What is your favorite video game Halloween event?
Scream Fortress - Ozzie Mejia, Senior Editor
Team Fortress 2 sounds downright ancient by today's standards, but there's still one time of the year that I'll always log into Valve's old team-based shooter. You can argue that video game Halloween events didn't truly take off until TF2 introduced its annual Scream Fortress, where the typical TF2 action was placed within a holiday-themed setting. Valve added special features, like ghosts, exploding pumpkins, candy corn, holiday-themed cosmetics, and then went on to add one of the coolest features at the time: a killer boss character that would run around the map and indiscriminately kill players.
I wrote a whole Scream Fortress retrospective last year, looking back at the days when Valve would approach this event with gusto. Even after it jumped the shark and Valve seemingly got bored with the whole enterprise, the community has worked to keep this annual event alive with new maps and cool ideas. Scream Fortress belongs to the TF2 community now more than ever and it's still an epic event to check out every year.
Festival of the Lost - Blake Morse, Pumpkin Patch Kid
Admittedly, my time with in-game events is fairly limited, and most of them were experienced while I played Destiny and Destiny 2, so in some ways, it wins by default. But I do sincerely enjoy the Festival of the Lost. The skins and masks match my inner-90s-Hot-Topic-mall-goth aesthetic and the fact that there are now special spooky weapons included ups Halloween cheer. In particular, I’m a big fan of having a giant, flaming pumpkin head. I just wish I was allowed to wear it in-game year-round.
Demon’s Souls: Pure Black World Tendency - David L. Craddock, Longreads Editor
Demon’s Souls is as enigmatic as gaming experiences come, but one of its most obtuse systems was also one of its best. As players perform actions, they shift the tendency of the world in which they’re exploring. Killing a boss moves a world closer to Pure White World Tendency, making enemies easier to kill and opening up otherwise inaccessible items and areas. However, dying shifts a world closer to Pure Black: enemies get tougher, special black phantom invaders appear, and those same otherwise-inaccessible areas and items open up.
World Tendency was so obtuse a system that most players resorted to reading up on it before attempting to move their game worlds in one direction or the other. However, certain holidays each year prompted publisher Atlus to hold special events. When October rolled around, Demon’s Souls players grew to expect a month of Pure Black World Tendency--the perfect occasion to take advantage of that tendency’s offerings. It was a blast, and knowing that an already notoriously difficult game would be at its most punishing all month long--unless you were a wimp and played offline--made the environments and experience that much scarier.
4 Days of Night: The Long Dark - Bill Lavoy, Ragnar Lothbrok
When I play The Long Dark, I avoid going outside if the snow looks a little heavy. I’m an old man in how careful I am in that game, so the 4 Days of Night event each year terrifies me, and I love it.
In 4 Days of Night, there is no sun in The Long Dark. It’s always dark. For 2019, this event will run from October 27 until November 1, and I’ll be sure to get plenty of playtime to take advantage of whatever extra goodies Hinterland tosses into the experience. In the past, this has included demonic-looking wolves, Jack-o-lanterns to mark loot, and pumpkin pies. If I’m going to die in an awful way in a video game, I’d like some pumpkin pie as my last meal.
Scream Fortress - Chris Jarrard, Smells like The Wolfman
My selection for this week’s ShackChat question wins by default because it is the only Halloween Event I’ve ever played in a game. Thankfully, it was pretty cool. About a decade ago, I was a serious business Team Fortress 2 person. I played the game heavily each week, as I had been since it launched as part of Valve’s wonderful Orange Box release.
Around the time of October 2010, Valve teased and then released a limited-time server alteration known as Scream Fortress. A new map, Mann Manor, was made available as well as new cosmetics. The most memorable of these was probably the pumpkin head hat. For those not familiar with peak TF2, hat business was wild. Typing this all out also makes me a bit sad, as I long for the glory days when Valve still made games that weren’t DOTA 2.
Sea of Thieves, Festival of the Damned - Sam Chandler, Guides Editor
I love everything about Sea of Thieves. The look and feel of the world, how it offers the perfect blend of PVE and PVP, but more than that, I love the care Rare brings to its creation. Last year kicked off the first Festival of the Damned event, and it was a blast.
Rare introduced to the game different colored lanterns, which could be collected by dying in different ways and used to light braziers around the map. A year later, and Rare has taken this mechanic and used it as the main tool in a challenging new activity, the Fort of the Damned.
Players need to gather these lantern colors, descend on a central fort, activate the fort and then defeat waves of enemies and a challenging boss. The only problem being the fort lights up like a Christmas tree, informing everyone else on the server what’s going on.
Most Halloween events aren’t lasting. They come in, add some skins, and leave. But with Sea of Thieves, the presence of Halloween can be felt all year round. Mechanics stay, as do the activities.
Fortnitemares - Donovan Erskine, Intern
Last year during season 6, Epic Games went all out in celebration of Halloween in Fortnite’s Battle Royale component. Fortnitemares saw the arrival of Halloween themed weapons, zombies, and some spooky skins. Many locations around the map were also given festive makeovers, making the game feel like one huge Halloween party.
With Halloween right around the corner, it’s only a matter of days until we start to see decorations start to pop up around the new map in Chapter 2. Some of the most highly coveted Halloween skins, such as the Skull Trooper has already popped back into the item shop.
Scream Fortress - Asif Khan, Has got candy bars
I have to agree with Ozzie on this one. I already loved TF2, but the Scream Fortress event always brought me back after I fell off of playing it with my group of friends. It isn’t as hype as it used to be, but there were several great years of smashing pumpkins.
Overwatch - Brittany Vincent, Senior Editor
I don't really play games that have Halloween events because I am working nearly 24/7 and instead mostly write about them. The games I do play must be enjoyed when I have sporadic free time so I miss out on most Halloween events in-game and outside of them. However, I like the themed Overwatch skins for its Halloween event and think the whole "makeover" the game looks receive for every new season is interesting. There are some very ornate whole-character skins instead of recolors from what I've seen for each character, and Mercy's witch-like costume looks cool, as does Roadhog, all dressed up as Frankenstein. Those skins look like the closest thing to “trick or treating” in-game from what I can tell, and you even get buckets of candy as loot boxes, which is very cute.
Killing Floor / Killing Floor 2 Halloween Events - Josh Hawkins, That guy that does things
The Killing Floor series has always been known for its intriguing events, which often offer new maps and complete reskins of all the known enemies in the game. For Halloween, though, Tripwire usually bumps things up a notch, offering an even scarier experience than the game normally sports. While previous years have offered great atrocities to fight, this year’s Grim Treatments is shaping up to be an even creepier and terrifying exploration of the game, and I can’t help but be excited to dive back in and see just how much the ZEDs have changed this go around.
Agree with our picks? Disagree? Agree to disagree? Chime in in the Chatty below.
Shack Staff posted a new article, Shack Chat: What is your favorite video game Halloween event?
Bump in the night.
I guess TF2, only because it was y first exposure to that thing.
Gotta be the Killing Floor events they held or hold. I wore my chicken suit so proudly after earning it in one of the events
TF2 is the king
Does Costume Quest count?
Lord Of The Rings Online and Killing Floor
TF2 the first 2-3 years
The headless horseman in WoW. Love his dialogue and voice work. The event is meh, but that horseman makes me smile thinking about it, even if I'm not playing.
Guild wars 2 had / has some good content.
A few years ago I would've said Overwatch but they decided it didn't need an update in all the time since so nevermind.